Ever since Missouri police departments added red light cameras across the state, there has been much controversy whether or not to pay the fines when people get their tickets in the mail. Some police departments argue that running a red light is a violation and breaking the law and that drivers need to be fined whether captured by police officers or via closed circuit television (CCTV). Still some people argue that red light cameras are unconstitutional. Personally, I feel they should only be used in the event of vehicle accidents to help with police investigations and that the drivers should be ticket in cases where they may have failed to yield resulting in a car accident. The Missouri Supreme Court has been deliberating over this issue for years. This has also led to thousands of civil and class-action lawsuits by ticked drivers.
I will say this much; about two weeks ago, I left work because I was having difficulty breathing and my daily and rescue inhalers were not working quickly enough. I thought I could drive myself there without the need for an ambulance, which I did; but I seem to remember waiting at a stoplight about 1 mile from the hospital. I looked up and saw cameras at the 4 way lights. I waited to see that no drivers were coming and even though I did not have a green light, there was no way I was going to wait during this life and death moment. I have yet to get a ticket in the mail but I will say that I have received a ticket for running a red light in the past for another related incident. Due to food allergies, my throat was closing from a reaction and my epi pen was no where to be found (lesson learned as I now carry 1 in my backpack, 1 in my car, and keep 2 in my house) and I drove to the hospital. It was the same hospital; however, I was coming from the opposite direction. I do not understand why the stoplight at the entrance to the ER from the main road has a red light camera with red lights. At the very least, this light needs to have a flashing yellow (yield) light for reasons such as emergencies. For that incident, I did receive a ticket in the mail. Once again, I waited until I felt it was safe to drive and yes; I drove through a red light. There is a right and obviously wrong place to have red light cameras enforced. Locations such as this one could literally be the difference between life and death!
Reportedly, between 2005 and 2014, there will be about 20% refunds paid against 800,000 tickets from 27 cities in Missouri. Nearly 62% of those tickets are from Saint Louis County alone. Most police departments have set fines for these violations which vary from county to county but the average cost tends to be around $100.
So, are red light cameras unconstitutional for drivers?
Many arguments surround whether there is a violation of one’s 4th Amendment rights of due process where guilt and then there is the issue where people cannot defend their self in court but are instead inspected to mail in their money or pay the fine in person at the police department. At this time, the only counties in which refunds could be issues are: Arnold, Bellerive Acres, Bel-Nor, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Calverton Park, Clayton, County Club Hills, Creve Coeur, Dellwod, Ellisville, Ferguson, Florissant, Hazelwood, Moline Acres, Northwoods, Richmond Heights, St. Ann and St. John.. Of these department, I would say that Creve Coeur has the most to lose due to its many red light cameras at practically every major intersection and they even take it a step further on the Olive bridge over 270 with bright photography camera flashes alerting drivers that someone just got busted which could have been you!